Let me start this essay by saying that my mother is an Overseas Contract Worker (OCW) in the Middle East. She has been practicing her profession as a nurse for around eighteen years in Saudi Arabia. Since her contract is renewable every ten months, she gets to go home on the eleventh and the twelfth months respectively which is actually equivalent to a fifty day-vacation here in the Philippines. That means we in the family get to see my mother 50 days out of 365 days a year. And numbers will not lie that of my nineteen years now in this world, I have just lived with my mother physically present in our home for about 900 days only, equivalent to even less than three years.
I have one aunt and one uncle who happened to be younger siblings of my father. No kidding, I only saw them every time they get back to the Philippines. And how are they visiting the Philippines? Well, every five years. So that means I only saw them for less than five times in my whole life.
All because the three of them migrated abroad. All because of globalization. There were so many times I am saddened by the truth that my mother isn’t with us for almost twenty years. During my childhood, during my high school days, I had always wanted to understand the feeling of a home having a mother physically present to guide and take care of the three of us, her kids – to help me in my puberty stage (because I am the only girl in our house aside from our house help), and to manage my two younger brothers who always engage in so many fights simply because at times my father cannot handle them both. I mean, there’s always a big and clear distinction on how a father and a mother trains and manages the household, right? But then again this thinking has always been overruled by the fact that it is but about family survival and “good” living that pushed my mother for this option. Let me also stress that my father never wanted this idea of my mom leaving us to find a higher-compensated job abroad. My father had been the Chief Executive for 12 years and now a local legislator in one of the towns in Bohol. This idea of average and simple living in terms of economic wealth (because a town in the provinces is really poorer as compared to the towns and cities here in the Metro) yet living in a community where people get to respect you because of the family’s political background is still not a weighted reason for my mom not to leave the country. After all, how much does a local official get as compared to an OFW’s monthly salary anyway? My mother cannot just swallow in the idea of poverty creeping into all Filipinos as our country’s economy continues to flunk each day. On the other extent, I can’t blame my mother if she opts to work abroad for I know that all she is thinking right now, her very reason of leaving us and working overseas, is that she wants to give us fairer lives, better lives as compared to how people live in towns and provinces. I realized, I would not have been in UP right now if it isn’t because of my mom supporting me. The cost of living here in Manila is far more expensive than in my province. For instance, a meal here in UP would cost me P35-80 whereas that same delicious meal can only be bought for only P15-25 in my province. And this has been manifested through all other forms of living here in Manila as compared in the provinces so to say.
On the other hand, looking at my mother’s perspective, I cannot fully imagine how she basically was able to survive working in Saudi alone for almost two decades already. I can still recall when she experienced her biggest problem she encountered there as an OCW about five years ago. This experience she had is in fact a problem not just to her but mostly to all non-Arabian workers. In the case of the nurses there, miscommunication between nurse-patient will surely arise if for instance there is a culture gap (and obviously there’s really a culture gap knowing that my mom is a Filipino and all her patients aren’t). Some patients may not understand them the way others do. Some patients especially the natives of Saudi are really abusive to their rights as citizens of the country. Once these patients will actually file complain to the management to any non-Arabian nurse (mainly because of miscommunication), the Arabian government, without further and thorough investigation will automatically lean on to the side of the Arabian patient complaining so that the one non-Arabian individual will only have 25 per cent chance to win the case. Luckily, my mom has gained the administration’s trust thus she was able to win the case otherwise she would have been whipped 150 times or more if she had lose the case. This is only one of the many horrible stories our migrants experience abroad. The *** thing here is that my mom cannot actually do anything about it other than to abide more strictly to the country’s laws because obviously she cannot move and work here in the Philippines because of a very relatively low compensation here not even enough to pay for my college education. In other words, all these sufferings from culture discrimination, all these pains she experienced because of the fact that she is away from us, her family, all of these, she actually ate it all up for us, for her family. Never mind her condition there as long as she can bring hope and inspiration to her family, to me.
Needless to say, the impact of globalization on the very medium of migration has its pros and cons. But I would say more on the cons, as based to my experience.
On the next issue, I will be talking more on the definition per se of the term globalization and more on its impact in the migration side.
(to be continued)